LOS ANGELES — The Free Speech Coalition today issued a statement about last night’s arrest of adult superstar Stormy Daniels and other dancers at a gentlemen’s club in Ohio. Charges against Daniels were later dismissed (read the XBIZ story here).
The FSC said the following:
For members of the adult industry, last night’s arrest of Stormy Daniels and two other dancers in an Ohio nightclub was appalling, but not shocking. Unfortunately, those who work in our industry, particularly those who are sex workers, are all too familiar with selective prosecution, entrapment, censorship and morality campaigns.
That the arrest would happen in Ohio — a state with a history of political prosecutions of sexual speech, from Flynt to Mapplethorpe — is also unfortunately not shocking.
These arrests were not about any particulars of the act. Stormy Daniels’ touring show hasn’t changed much from city to city, as evidenced by the journalists and fans who have witnessed it. And her act — what Reason magazine recently described as “more vintage va-va-voom than vulgar” — is arguably tamer than thousands of performances that happen each night across the country.
No, these arrests were meant to send a message. They were meant to intimidate and to shame. They were meant, like so many thousands of similar arrests on so many unwinnable prosecutions across time and geography, to make life more difficult for sex workers. To use mugshots like heads on sticks to warn those who might speak out against sexual shame and political repression.
While politically minded prosecutors may not understand it, the basis of everything we do is consent. Consent to enjoy adult entertainment and consent from the workers who make it. It strikes us as the ultimate in hypocrisy to attend a performance and actively engage the performer — and then to arrest her.
Unfortunately, that’s what happens to sex workers across the country, who routinely find themselves entrapped through consensual contact, and sometimes extorted or assaulted as a way of enforcing a moral crusade.
We’re glad that Stormy is free, and that the charges have been dismissed. But what about the other dancers who were arrested last night in that sting? And what about the thousands of sex workers who are routinely approached, groped and arrested for performing consensual labor? We want freedom for them, as well.
Sex work is real work, and sexual speech is real speech. Last night’s arrests show once again that sex work prosecution is political repression, and that if we hope to stop the latter, we must stand up against the former as well.